About the Lab
The Mayer Lab for Research in Learning and Instruction conducts research on how people learn (i.e., the science of learning) and how to help people learn (i.e., the science of instruction). We want to know how to help people learn so they can take what they have learned and apply it in new situations (i.e., we want to know how to promote learning for transfer). Our approach is to apply the science of learning to education. Our work involves the intersection of cognition, instruction, and technology, including: (1) multimedia learning, such as determining how people learn scientific explanations from computer-based animation, video, and narration; how illustrations affect how people learn from scientific text; or how people learn to solve problems from interactive simulations; (2) learning in computer-supported environments, such as how to improve learning with online pedagogical agents, with online intelligent tutoring systems, with mobile devices, and in virtual reality, and (3) computer games for learning, including determining factors that increase the effectiveness of educational games and examining whether playing computer games can cause improvements in cognitive and perceptual skills. In short, we do basic research on practical educational issues that contributes to both learning theory and educational practice.
Current research grants from the Institute of Education Sciences, Office of Naval Research, and the National Science Foundation include studies investigating how people learn with on-line tutors in computer-based mathematics and science lessons, determining which features of educational games promote deep learning, determining the cognitive consequences of playing computer games, using eye-tracking methodology and cognitive neuroscience methodology to determine how people learn from multimedia lessons, investigating how the gestures and voice of an on-screen pedagogical agent affect student learning from an online lesson, studying how to foster learning in virtual reality, and identifying how to help learners use generative learning strategies. The unifying goal of these projects is to conduct methodologically rigorous studies that yield research-based principles of instructional design and contribute to cognitive science theories of how people learn.
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